Thanksgiving dinner: from glamorized baby food to Heaven on Earth


Gracie Cox, Editor-in-Chief

As a holiday, Thanksgiving has an unfortunate history. But even though it is used to shrug off the very real struggle of many Native Americans, there are still a few consolations that lie within. While most people would say that getting to see their family is Thanksgiving’s greatest redeeming quality, I have to disagree. Visiting with your family can often lead to heated political arguments, which I try to avoid when possible. And you may ask, what do I focus on to swallow my words? The food, of course!

Food during the holidays is almost always delicious, but the Thanksgiving spread feels a bit more special. There’s a full table of options, covering every texture and flavor that the American palette can manage. But, there are a couple of “bad eggs” among this delectable meal. And I have some strong opinions about them. So, straight from the horse’s mouth, this is my undeniable ranking of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes from worst to best. Let the games (and disagreements) begin.

8. Pumpkin pie: This may be an unpopular opinion, but I can’t stand this dessert. I’ll admit it, the actual flavor of pumpkin is not that bad. Sometimes it can even be pleasant if it’s made by the right person. But it is lacking texturally. The puree that makes up the majority of this dish has the consistency of cheap baby food. I just know that I could stroll into Safeway’s infant care aisle and find a Gerber jar of the same suspiciously smooth pumpkin mush that fills our country’s pie crusts. Personally, I don’t find that very appetizing.

7. Sweet potatoes: Unsurprisingly, I have never met someone who can say that their favorite Thanksgiving dish is sweet potatoes. There’s an obvious reason for this. They’re not especially unpleasant in flavor or texture, but they’re just not very distinctive in either category. I think that they taste like a sad excuse for dessert. Now that I think about it, what do sweet potatoes even classify as? Are they a dessert, or just an excessively sweet vegetable? I’m not sure. Overall, they’re just a little too “blah” compared to all of the other options on the table. 

6. Green bean casserole: In my opinion, casseroles can only be so good. You can do a great deal to make them taste decent, but they will never be brilliant. Unlike some of the dishes that I’ve mentioned, it is fairly easy to give green bean casserole a punch of flavor. With enough seasoning and onion, it’ll taste acceptable. But, it is still just cream of mushroom soup, green beans, and some onions thrown together into a pan. I simply can’t respect the lack of effort that this dish requires.

5. Turkey: Oh turkey, the supposed star of the show, why must you be so boring? I agree that it looks splendid as a centerpiece on the table, but it simply doesn’t taste great. I have tried some very impressive turkey in my day, but the vast majority has just been dry and somewhat flavorless. To be honest, I’m conflicted about this dish. It has potential, but I feel that it doesn’t often reach it fully. Turkey is like the Meghan Trainor of the protein world. They’ll both do in a pinch, but there are much better options out there. Why would you eat a turkey or listen to Ms. Trainor if there’s steak or Ariana Grande available? That, I am not sure of.

4. Cranberry sauce: For the first time on this list, I actually enjoy the dish being discussed. With so many heavy foods stacked on your plate, I feel that the Thanksgiving meal requires some sort of palette cleanser. And if cranberry sauce is made right, it serves as a great one. To clarify, I am talking about homemade sauce, which is the only acceptable version. Like any sane person, I will never voluntarily eat sauce that holds its can’s shape for hours on end. I find that deeply disturbing. But if you make homemade sauce and it’s not too sweet and just citrusy enough, cranberry sauce is a pleasant addition to your plate. I certainly enjoy it, but it is not the best dish available.

3. Rolls: These are always a classic. They can be as simple or as complex as you would like them to be. In my family, we bake these delicious orange-flavored rolls. They tend to be a little plain, but that doesn’t bother me. I guess that I find enjoyment in the uncomplicated aspects of life. It’s Thanksgiving; sit back, relax and eat a roll. Trust me, you deserve it.

2. Mashed potatoes: They’re fantastic, but they do need some sort of gravy as a sidekick. If they’re homemade and treated with love and care, mashed potatoes can be the star of Thanksgiving. Instant mashed potatoes aren’t nearly as tasty, but they’ll work if you don’t want to go through the process of handmashing a pot full of potatoes. Whipped, creamy goodness. Need I say more?

1. Stuffing: I’ll say it, stuffing is a godsend. It is sheer beauty folded in with sage, rosemary, and a heaping of bread. Simply put, carbs are good. Carbs are life. Mixing in carbs with large quantities of fresh herbs and chicken stock makes them even better. Enough said.